Emmys 2015: Five Sci-Fi Shows That Could Get Nominations

Thursday, 04 June 2015 - 12:43PM
Comic Book TV Shows
Orphan Black
Leftovers
Thursday, 04 June 2015 - 12:43PM
Emmys 2015: Five Sci-Fi Shows That Could Get Nominations
Emmy nominations don't come out until July 16, but the predictions have begun in earnest, and as usual, there is a depressing dearth of sci-fi contenders. Genre television shows are given the shaft in general; even hardboiled dramas like Justified and The Americans have trouble getting awards attention just because they vaguely fall under the "Western" and "spy thriller" categories, respectively. But they're especially biased against the sci-fi/fantasy genre (with a few notable exceptions), with classic and acclaimed shows like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica getting repeatedly snubbed. That being said, here are five sci-fi shows that may sneak into the nominations this year:

The Leftovers


Emmys 2015: Five Sci-Fi Shows That Could Get Nominations

[Credit: HBO]


The Leftovers is the most stereotypically awards-bait-ish show on this list, with its high production values, its pedigreed cast, its focus on character drama over any kind of action, and its dour tone. But most importantly, it's on HBO, and most of the recent exceptions to the "Emmys hate sci-fi and fantasy" rule have aired on HBO.

Even so, it only has an outside shot at a Best Drama Series nomination, partially as a result of the bias against sci-fi and partially because the first season was just more polarizing than House of Cards, Mad Men, or even Game of Thrones. Justin Theroux's performance was critically acclaimed, and his name is in the conversation, but there are just too many contenders from more established shows for him to have a realistic shot.

That just leaves Carrie Coon, who may very well be the only sci-fi nomination this year. Since there are fewer substantive roles for women in general, her competition is far less fierce than Theroux's, and she was recently nominated for a Critics' Choice Award. 

Variety just did a profile on her role in The Leftovers, and it wasn't explicitly an Emmys profile, but it might as well have been. When Coon starts talking about her sickly performance in the orgy scene in the critically acclaimed episode, "Guest," she sounds like she's doing the Oscar circuit: 

"I got really sick at the beginning of the episode. We were shooting in a hotel in New York City and in-between takes they would have to put an apple box out for me to sit on because I was so deliriously ill. But often you'll hear actors say they do their best work when they're sick - you sort of get out of your own way, you're too tired to be self-conscious - so I'm actually really glad and thankful for it."

American Horror Story: Freak Show


Emmys 2015: Five Sci-Fi Shows That Could Get Nominations

[Credit: FX]


When I said that Carrie Coon may be the only sci-fi nomination this year, that's only if you discount American Horror Story, as it's a safe bet for Best Limited Series, Best Actress in a Limited Series (Jessica Lange), and Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series (Sarah Paulson and Kathy Bates), and Michael Chiklis and Finn Wittrock are also possible spoilers for Best Supporting Actor. But AHS is more of a genre-bending fantasy than sci-fi specifically, even during this mutant-heavy season, and it's given a significant leg up by its classification as a limited series. If it was forced to compete with the likes of straight dramas like Downton Abbey and Better Call Saul, it might not even be in the running.

Orphan Black


Emmys 2015: Five Sci-Fi Shows That Could Get Nominations

[Credit: BBC America]


There's not much we can say about this that hasn't already been said many times over. Tatiana Maslany deserves all the awards for her nuanced, lived-in performances on Orphan Black as ten different clones, as well as those clones' semi-frequent imitations of each other, not to mention the occasional talking scorpion. She has won two Critics' Choice Awards and been nominated at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, but has been repeatedly snubbed by the Emmys. She has an outside shot, but she does have a shot, and we'll be crossing our fingers for her.

"If Tatiana is nominated, that's a huge honor for the show. If the show is nominated, that would be so fantastic because we'd be recognized as a drama that's not just a sci-fi show," Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson told THR.

Maslany may deserve a nomination more than the show, which is sometimes brilliant but also flawed, but the assertion that it should be recognized as a "drama" rather than a "just a sci-fi show" goes to the heart of the problem. Sci-fi shows are often character dramas at heart, regardless of their premises, and should be treated as such.

The Last Man on Earth


Emmys 2015: Five Sci-Fi Shows That Could Get Nominations

[Credit: Fox]


The charming post-apocalyptic comedy Last Man on Earth is a dark horse in the Best Comedy Series race, while Will Forte and Kristen Schaal are both in the mix for their respective acting races. It will have an uphill battle as a new, relatively under-the-radar show, but it definitely deserves nominations over Modern Family, which passed its prime several seasons ago.

Daredevil


Emmys 2015: Five Sci-Fi Shows That Could Get Nominations

[Credit: Marvel/Netflix]


This is more of a dream nominee than an actual prediction, as Daredevil is not likely to get any major awards. On paper, it should be a shoe-in; it's dark, gritty, well-written, well-acted, beautifully shot, and overwhelmingly praised by critics. Unfortunately, it's a superhero show, and I can't see the Emmys getting over that particular bias. We can still dream that maybe, just maybe, Vincent D'Onofrio's standout performance as Wilson Fisk will get some awards recognition, but more likely he'll just have to wait until he's in the running for True Detective.
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